Kieran Gibbs, making his second successive start for the first time this term, completed the full 90 minutes as Arsenal stormed to a 4-1 away win against Sunderland on Saturday.
In the post-match interview, he had plenty to say about squad depth, Olivier Giroud’s impact off the substitutes’ bench as well as Alexis Sánchez’ importance to the side.
The left-back, who replaced an injured Nacho Monreal in the starting eleven, captained the side in midweek during their 2-0 EFL Cup win over Reading. Having only lost once all season, a 4-3 home defeat on the opening weekend against title challengers Liverpool, Arsenal continue to build momentum going into a tricky run of fixtures in the coming weeks.
Gibbs told Arsenal.com, “It’s really tight at the moment in the league, it’s small margins. When you come to places like this it’s not easy when teams are fighting and in more a difficult position than us.
“It’s important to be clinical and obviously in the second half we kind of closed up nicely and it was an important win for us.”
On Giroud’s significant impact off the bench, Gibbs added, “Olivier’s just come back from injury so he’s come in and shown how important he is for the team.”
Alexis reached the 50-goal milestone for the Gunners with a well-taken brace at the Stadium of Light, and Gibbs spoke highly in praise of the talented Chilean. “Alexis obviously deserves everything he gets for the work that he puts in on the pitch and everyday in training. He’s a world-class striker and with 50 goals for him, you feel like there’s only more to come.”
When questioned about the side’s squad depth, which has seen Gibbs himself afforded more opportunities to play this season. “That’s obviously the difference and I feel that’s been the difference for a few years with the club. It’s about a squad game and we need to keep everyone fit, that’s the most important thing because there’s depth and quality in the squad.
“We need to utilise that throughout the season and make sure everyone’s ready because you can be called upon at any time.”
It’s refreshing to see comments like these, especially from players such as Gibbs who haven’t always been given as many minutes as their ability commands in recent seasons.
Monreal has been struggling for consistency this season and Gibbs has stepped into the breach seamlessly, which is a testament to his quality as well as his positive mentality.
Rather than moan and publicly criticise a lack of first-team football, he continues to work hard and it’s great to see one of our longest-serving players being afforded the opportunities he so rightly deserves.